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Partnering to Enable Evidence-Based Practices in Policing

By Richard Cockbain, PG Research, University of Dundee / Police Scotland

On 31st May 2018 Queen Margaret University hosted a Knowledge Exchange Event entitled ‘Partnering to Enable Evidence-Based Practices in Policing’.

The event was attended by an audience drawn from a range of backgrounds, with representation from Police Scotland, academics and students from a number of universities, alongside representatives of organisations such as PIRC and SACRO, as well as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland and former Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, David Strang.

The evening consisted of five presentations from practitioners and academics who spoke on very different topics relating to policing and criminal justice related work and research.

The key-note speaker, the recently appointed HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, and recently retired Chief Superintendent, Gill Imery, spoke of the role of inspection in improving policing across Scotland.  She discussed the significant changes in processes and culture within Police Scotland over the last two years, moving towards the headline objectives of the formation of the single-force to reduce duplication in back office functions and to ensure equity of access to specialist services across the country.  The outlook offered was a positive one with inspection focusing on outcomes rather than compliance and HMICS working with Police Scotland to achieve greater public support and a greater feeling of safety in our communities.

Dr Ann Clark spoke about her research regarding the ‘Awareness of and Support for Speech, Language and Communications Needs (SLCN) in Scotland’s Criminal Justice System’, highlighting the surprising prevalence of SLCN within those subjected to CJ processes.  She demonstrated the significance of SLCN due to their impact on the individuals’ ability to navigate the CJ system, outlining ways research can be used to improve opportunities for this group.

Dr Ian Elliot presented on Organisational Strategy and Change in Public Administration, with the Scottish approach being asset-based, focused on the co-production of services and an improvement in philosophy.  He spoke about Leadership Development and community empowerment, including the challenges and barriers faced in these areas.

Dr Jamal Mansour’s research looks at eye witness identification and methodology that can be employed by practitioners to assess reliability.  Her study found that immediately assessed confidence, depending on method, is related to and provides an indicator of reliability – an area of business which attendee Detective Superintendent Pat Campbell had a significant interest in.  Dr Mansour’s work continues and it is her intention to replicate the study and broaden the research to include video line-ups and non-pristine conditions.

Alison Strang, a Senior Research Fellow, and Paul Matheson of Police Scotland’s Diversity Unit, concluded the presentations with their work on refugee integration.  They discussed their research with refugees and locals across the UK and the development of a framework which provides indicators of integration.  They continued to discuss ongoing work by police and partners to increase engagement and provide training to those in high impact roles amongst a number of other work strands designed to aid integration.

The evening finished with a panel discussion, with a number of questions from the floor, concluding with an issue raised by Dr Mansour to all those present.  She highlighted the need for a mechanism, or interface, between Police Scotland and academia through which a research strategy can be set and greater collaboration achieved. This, it was understood, was an ongoing piece of work.

At the conclusion of the formal event, all in attendance continued discussions over a drink with connections made, ideas sparked and knowledge exchanged.

For further information on the event, see:

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Seldom Heard Voices: Community Impact Event 


In 2021, SIPR, Police Scotland and Scottish Police Authority funded 5 grants to support research into ‘Seldom Heard’ communities. On Wednesday 26th April, we hosted a collaborative event to present the final research projects to an audience of academics, community members, NGO members, and Police Scotland staff and serving officers. First up, Kirsty Forrester from Dundee City Council and Dr Jonathan Mendel from the University of Dundee discussed their collaborative research with BAME communities and serving officers, highlighting the need for trust. Second, Dr Andrew Williams from St. Andrews and Inspector Jason Peter from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit presented their ‘Photovoice’ Project which aimed to encourage young people in areas of inequality to engage with their community by taking pictures. Third, Dr Julie Berg and Emily Mann from University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh respectively presented their project’ Accounting for Complexities: an Intersectional Approach to Enhancing Police Practitioner Accountability, Legitimacy & Sustainable Reform’. Fourth, Professor James Moir and Dr Corinne Jola from Abertay University focus on the topic of empathy with LGBT youth who are care experienced or are from other disadvantaged background. Finally, Bryony Nisbet from Queen Margaret University presented her and Dr Nicole Vidal’s research into refugee and asylum-seeker experiences, trust and confidence with Police Scotland. Following the presentations, representatives from Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority were invited to reflect on the findings and recommendations, and to provide assurances of the SPA and Police Scotland’s ongoing commitment to the communities and the issues raised. Assistant Chief Constable Emma Bond, said: “This important research underlines our commitment to listening to all our communities so we can continually improve how we represent, reflect and serve them. “Providing every citizen with a just and effective police service is fundamental to policing legitimacy and to our ability to keep people safe. “A great strength of Police Scotland is that our officers and staff are drawn from different backgrounds and experiences. What unites us is our shared and non-negotiable set of values – integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights. “I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this work and we are already considering the recommendations made so that we can continue to design our services to best meet the needs of our communities.” Tom Halpin from the Scottish Police Authority said “The Authority is committed to policing in the public interest, to do that we must understand public views, opinions, and concerns. The research published today will allow us to gain more insight into where to target our activity and attention to ensure we build the strongest relationships we can with all communities in Scotland.” SIPR Director Liz Aston underlined SIPR’s commitment stating that “SIPR will continue to support the dissemination of these important research findings in order to ensure that they impact policing policy and practice”. SIPR hopes to continue to support research into Seldom Heard Communities.



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